There are updates, and then there are updates. There are the updates that give you a bunch of new functionality – marketing tends to love these. And then there are the ones that just make a big slog through feature requests. Maschine “2.4.5” is not an exciting sounding update. But wow, does it ever add a long list of improvements users wanted.
Last week stirred up something of a fracas in the DJ community, as Los Angeles club The Cure and the Cause announced a ban on laptops in the DJ booth – the announcement of which then went perdictably viral. That much turned out to be brilliant publicity: club trolls DJs, magazine trolls DJs, “controversy” generates social media traffic. Here’s the problem, though: once you get past the nonsense about “talent” and laptops, I think there should really be no controversy here. What The Club and the Cure said about laptops and controllers I think is dead-on – and hard to …
Ableton’s Link, a collaborative jamming platform that lets you sync without wires, without “masters” or “slaves”, and without a whole lot of pain, continues to grow. It’s just shown up in Native Instruments’ iMaschine, as well as Novation’s Blocs Wave. Blocs Wave is notable because it’s pretty new, but seeing Ableton Link in an NI product is itself a breakthrough. NI could have just declared this “not invented here,” but they didn’t. And now the message from users to Ableton is clear: bring this platform to the desktop, so we can use it with everything.
There’s a Eurorack craze on. Synth fever continues to spread. Instrument and software makers keep innovating. And there was reason to time all of this new gear madness to the beginning of this month – with not one but two massive trade shows, each a short Bahn ride away from one another in Germany. It’s almost too much. So, we’ve put our favorites all together, to keep it all straight.
Last November, I went armed with some LOM label microphones to the Netherlands to find out what sounds you could discover in a space research facility. That exploration produced a lot of sounds, and one way to play with them was to transform them into percussion. Now you can download the drum kit I made for your own use, or to create your own instruments.
Forget about whether anyone is going to listen to that release, let alone whether you’ll make money. Finishing is a beautiful feeling. Something happens when you get to that phase of adjusting the final mix, bouncing for mastering. For many of us, that last step involves a stereo bounce. But I think it’s high time to start thinking in terms of stems (both in the lowercase, and the all-caps STEMS Native Instruments is keen for you to use).
We know an iPad can augment a music setup. But the question for many is, can it replace a computer? Arturia’s iSpark isn’t shy about what it accomplishes. It really looks a whole lot like the company’s drum machine on desktop, only remade for iPad. And it even works with the dedicated SparkLE controller – meaning you now can go pad controller + iPad as you could controller + computer. It also comes with Ableton Link, for easy syncing and jamming with other apps, other iPads/iPhones, and Ableton Live (in any combination).
The piano has been living with a beautiful legacy, but that legacy can double as tyranny. The Steinway Model D, favorite instrument of mine that it is, has also frozen the technological development of the keyboard instrument. And that’s why the Una Corda is different. Built custom by David Klavins, and associated with that builder’s collaboration with pianist Nils Frahm, this lightweight piano is unlike any you’ve seen or heard before. And now, you can get a taste of playing the real thing with a software instrument.
There are a lot of hugely powerful things you can do with an environment like Reaktor. But that doesn’t necessarily suggest where to begin. The best way to get into a deep tool is often to solve a simple problem. At the Native Sessions installment on Reaktor 6, Nadine Raihani showed us a simple example of taking a user library offering and making some quick changes. The result: a Euclidean polyrhythm sequencer (Euclidean say what?) that you can play from a keyboard. That turns out to be scary useful: like holding down notes for instant improv techno.
It’s a marvelous time to be a musician. You can imagine a musical instrument, a compositional invention, and then realize that idea in short order. So I was glad to get the chance to emcee an evening of discussion with Reaktor experts, including the folks who built the tool, last month in the software’s hometown Berlin. That discussion ultimately was partly about Reaktor, but partly about the act of instrument building itself – meaning there were insights for anyone interested in working with electronics or software to dream up new musical tools.